Thursday, 26 May 2011

Video of the Week - Sabine & Tribalation!

I have to confess I'm rather excited about this week's two videos, and there's a bit of a story behind them. I had decided it was time for watching a bit of sword work, and had chosen a video from Sabine of Oregon, who does some fabulous stuff including double sword (I can just see Jo on the edge of her seat with excitement now - yes, video coming up Jo!). I then e mailed Sabine about photos for the post (How organised am I now? Planning blogs in advance!) and in her lovely response she mentioned another video from the same event; a video of her troupe. So off I went to check it out and Oooooh! Ooooooh! I shall keep you all in suspense for a little longer as to just what it is about that second video that has me so chirpy. First we'll look at Sabine's wonderful solo work.

"Sabine is a dance artist who has studied Middle Eastern dance since 1988 and has been performing tribal style belly dance since 1999 ...... (she) is a master of 'raqs al sayf', the sword dance, where the grace and flow of the dance movements are contrasted by the dangerous sharpness of the huge Turkish Scimitars that she balances. Sabine has taught her own special brand of  'Dangerous Sword Dancing' in workshops and festivals all over the Northwest. Sabine brings a strong and unique presence to the stage.

Her dancing has been called 'powerful', 'mesmerising' and 'beautiful'."

From Sabine's website.

And here she is, together with not one but two swords:

It is always a treat to see someone dance with such fluidity and grace - but to then see them maintain that whilst dancing 'as one' with their sword(s) is awesome. And what amazing isolations; those scimitars are not even wavering on Sabine's head! All of these, together with the elegant strength and power with which she wields the weapons illustrates perfectly why her sword workshops and intensives are nigh on legendary (Hey, we've heard all about them and we're several thousand miles away in sunny Lancashire!).

However, sword work is not Sabine's only talent. Together with her troupe, Tribalation!, she also dances improvisational tribal style dance.

"Fast and exciting, slow and mesmerising; Tribal Bellydance combines powerful movements from Middle Eastern and flamenco dance with ornate costumes and jewellery from many cultures to produce an unforgettable dance experience.

Tribalation! dance troupe first hit the scene in Eugene in 2003. Today dancers Sabine, Portia and Melissa share their love, friendship and infectious dance energy through their improvisational performances ..."

From Tribalation website

So here these lovely ladies are in action at last year's Totally Tribal event. Beautiful dancing of course - but can anyone who knows us guess why both of us love this video so very much?

Oooh! Oooh! Having watched this several times this week it inspired us in our practice tonight - inspired us to get in some more ZILLING!

Now those of you who have been following this blog for a few months may recall the Don't Be Zilly post back in March. The one where we pleaded the case for zils being used as a musical instrument to complement the music, rather than a triplets tool to beat it into submission? Good zilling causes lots of Sakura excitement - and here in this video there is more than a measure of good zilling!
A variety of rhythms including more complex ones, zils used to highlight and accent appropriate parts of the music - these girls really know how to use these instruments not just to support their dancing, but to bring the dance and the music together as a seamless whole. And we're loving it!

Thank you ladies!

If you want to find out more about Sabine and Tribalation! including information about sword intensives then check out their website here. It's also well worth looking them up on You Tube.

Right, it's back to the zilling practice again for me!

Have a good week everyone - and happy dancing!

Thanks to Sabine and Tribalation! for use of the images in this post

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Shekinah Presents!

Last night Sakura were back to full strength and heading off towards the seaside (didn't actually see the sea but did smell the salty air!) to Shekinah's very first hafla in sunny old Formby. And what a delight it was! The girls (Amy, Lisa and Hayley) did a superb job and we had a great time watching, performing and having a good old bop afterwards (How many of us hit the floor for 'Sweet Home Alabama'? Own up girls - you know who you are!)

The audience balance for this event was more tipped towards non bellydancers than usual. Not only was it the girls' first event, but it was also the debut performance of 'Out By Seven' who rocked us with some great tunes! Sadly we missed them during the interval - but more than made up for that after all the dance performances. This meant that a lot of family members were there, as well as friends of the Liverpool flamenco group who clapped and stamped their way through two spots for our delectation. Everyone seemed to really enjoy themselves and the dance floor was packed at the end of the evening!

There was plenty of fabulous tribal for us to get our teeth into of course. Both Shekinah and Tantrum did two performances each, including a really atmospheric Indian flavoured dance from Jane and Nicola - beautiful costumes girls! Our Morrigan friends performed again to 'Kelling', and were great company to boot, and Sirens of Shadows did their dark fusion bit (Tribal Jane made a hasty dive under the table at the first strains of Wumpscut!).

Sakura performed two dances. Our first was a slow number (100% improvised) to Gypsy Caravan's "Carolyn's Walk' (shortened version!) - a traditional tribal track that we've always loved! We had found during practices that the music rather disturbingly hypnotised us somewhat so that we forgot to change moves - not good for a performance! However it was alright on the night as they say, and we had fun slinking and stalking (in our new dresses!)!

Our second track was a bit of a departure for us music wise (as you may have anticipated if you read our blog post the other week). We performed to a contemporary track, 'Dog Days Are Over' by Florence and the Machine, and what fun we had  (apologies to all the non-dancing audience who were startled by Cayte's loud and over-excited 'Yip!' as the first fast bit kicked in!). If you don't know it, there are a lot of tempo changes in this song - it goes from slow to steady to fast to slow to fast to chonky (sorry - words fail me but you know what I mean!) to fast to slow ---- phew!!! But yes folks, apart from the slow opening sequence it WAS all improv. Basically we knew the track inside out and upside down musically (Sarah did threaten to sing along at one point!) and it just seemed to work so well with our tribal moves - and more importantly, feeling. We're certainly not moving away from dancing to more traditional tracks, but this was a great change of pace for us and certainly kept us on our toes (particularly at the point where Cayte's dance sandal got stuck in her pantaloons during a Turkish Shimmy Combo. Ooops!) And of course it contrasted beautifully with our early more traditional slow dance. Lots of fun!
There were of course other types of bellydance too - a fast-moving sword dance from Helen, two lovely solos from Bassima and a truly beautiful veil dance from Romy (complete with an amazing rainbow-hued veil which has Cayte drooling every time she sees it!) We'd like to give a special mention to Romy's two students, Hannah and Ree (hope I've got your names right!). Not only did they duet together as Ophidia, doing an Egyptian number but, as other members of their group couldn't make it, they also stepped into the breach at the last minute and performed a fusion dance as Bellydance Beatbox. Well done girls!

And so another great hafla came to a close. Huge 'Thank Yous' to the ladies of Shekinah - we really enjoyed ourselves, as did everyone else! And of course, Cayte won two raffle prizes which always goes down well... Hopefully this event will be repeated? Yes? Please?

It came as a bit of a surprise to us to suddenly realise that we haven't got any more hafla performances lined up for four whole months! We seem to be beset by clashes of holidays/work commitments/family stuff that spookily seem to be timed to coincide with all the events we'd normally dance at - Pauline Qu's Close Encounters of the Tribal Kind, Burnley Hafla, Yorkshire Bedazzle, Merhaba hafla. You name it, at least one of us have managed to clash it this year. One or other of us will be going to at least watch a few haflas, but performing is on an enforced hiatus. Still, it will give us chance to concentrate on a few different aspects of our dance ready for an Autumn which is already looking more than a little busy! It's all good!

Until next time, happy dancing!

Thanks to  Victoria Ward Photography for images in this post

Friday, 20 May 2011

Video of the Week : Awalim!

This week we're back across the Atlantic to Atlanta, Georgia - and the fabulous dancing of Awalim Dance Company!  Formed twelve years ago by Ziah Ali McKinney-Taylor, with the aim of promoting World Fusion Tribal Bellydance in their corner of the USA, they have since gone from strength to strength as both performers and teachers and have fans worldwide. Ziah also organises theTribalCon dance convention in Atlanta.

"Awalim’s particular flavor of Tribal belly dance is decidedly upbeat and earthy while being sophisticated and urban, bringing Atlanta’s strongest characteristics to the Tribal genre.
Our style comes from a good technical foundation of Middle Eastern Dance / Raks Sharki combined with American Tribal Style, American Cabaret, North African, Turkish, Indian Rajisthani and Persian. Fusion is our main focus however we make an effort to attain significant knowledge of a style before fusing it with another in order to stay true to its feel."
Awalim Dance Company website

I cannot tell a lie; once again I have been racked with indecision regarding which video to choose from these lovely ladies.  So (just for a change, and because I think you all deserve a treat!) we're going to feature two!

The first one is from a performance in Tampa, Florida last year :

I couldn't resist that one - not least because it includes a stick dance to 'Shashkin' but also because it shows off Awalim's trademark bustled skirts to perfection!

The second video is from this year's TribalCon :

Wonderful live music here, not to mention my big costuming love : pantaloons!

We've chosen both of these videos because they illustrate everything we love about Awalim. The first time we saw them was at Tribal Vibe North in Glasgow way back in 2008. They quite simply lit up the room, and not just with the palm flames they were carrying. This is happy tribal at its very best; their joy and love of the dance shine through in every look, every move. It's one big smile from beginning to end, not just from the Awalim ladies but from you as their audience - you just can't resist sharing their happiness.

They also interact brilliantly with their audience. Their smiles are of course a huge part of this, but they are constantly making eye contact, teasing, inviting you into the dance with them. As we've blogged before, this is something that we love and that, as Sakura, we're constantly working to develop. These girls are a real inspiration to us!

Finally of course Awalim are great dancers! These videos show this off beautifully, and also give you an idea of their amazing prop work (they also do some mesmerising fire dancing - have a look for yourself on You Tube!). Their roots in both tribal and folkloric dance styles are showcased really well and it's wonderful to see them not only dancing to pre-recorded music but also interacting with a live band.

Last but not least, these ladies do wear rather fabulous costumes - bright colours (which we love!) and bustles to die for!

If you want to find out more about Awalim and see more of them in action check out their website here. They also have a Facebook page here to help you keep up with goings on!

Hopefully one day soon these goings on might include a return trip to the UK. How about it ladies?

Well, that's our video(s) for another week! Next time we write we'll be able to tell you all about our adventures at the Shekinah haflas - there may even be photos of us in our new costumes!!!

Until then, happy dancing!

Thanks to Awalim Dance Company for the images in this post

Sunday, 15 May 2011

A Hafla-ing We Will Go....


You WILL go to the ball, Cinders!
Jane chills out with Cayte and Jo.
 As you'll know by now Sarah couldn't make this afternoon's hafla at Lowton (she's starting to feel a bit better now thankfully). However, we needn't have worried - Tribal Jane was only too happy to leap into the breach. I have to say I did draw the line at dancing improv with her - far too many flailing windmilly arms and flopping over at the waist for my liking! Let's just say, never try to do an Arabic dippy fade thing with her... Nevertheless, we still had a great time. Rather than just straightforward blogging, here is the story of Jane's day out in words and pictures (she does like pictures bless her!) :

Networking with Sue
 As soon as she arrived Jane decided to get in with the Important People - and made a beeline for Sue, who has organised the Lowton hafla (and, together with her husband John, has laid on the superb Rent-A-Chef buffets too) for many years. Sorry if that makes you feel old Sue! Lowton haflas are great - friendly, well organised, good food ... all the important things! Lowton was also the very first hafla I ever went to - and performed at - so always has a special place in my heart. No idea what Jane was doing here - angling for a performance spot maybe?

Please can I have a go now?
 Next stop was the music corner - as always, coordinated by Julie, who runs the haflas with Sue. Jane was very excited to find a man crawling around under the mixing desk on her first visit to the sound booth! There was a really interesting mix of music this time - from rock through to classic Egyptian tracks. Jane was very happy to spot a bit of Gypsy Caravan in there, as well as a beautiful track by Raul Ferrando, and a track by Valravn that would be great for a bit of improv. However, she would like the Sirens of Shadows to know that she finds Wumpscut very very SCARY!!!!!

All these jewels for ME!
 Then it was time for Michelle's magical Whirling Dervish souk - a regular and vital part of the Lowton haflas. Tribal, cabaret, jewellery, costuming, props, cds, dvds - there really is something for everyone! It's so hard to resist - it sits there twinkling and sparkling, just luring you in! I have to confess, I was sorely tempted by a gorgeous teal and black semi-circular silk veil ........

I am over eighteen. Honest.
 As well as the great buffets at Lowton, there's also a pay-bar, which is really reasonably priced. The bar staff are so used to haflas by now (as are the chaps who inhabit the games room next door) that they just take it all in their stride ... It's a great hafla venue, with a good big dance floor and easy parking - and more than one set of toilets. Which is important of course!

So tell me again - why can't you
just do a solo?
There's always time for a bit of a chill-out before the first dances start - time to peruse the programme (which always includes music as well as dancer details. I love this - I'm a bit obsessional about knowing exactly what tracks people are dancing to!) ...

At last it was time for the performances to start, and as usual at Lowton there was a really good mix of solos and groups, Egyptian, Gothic, fusion, props and both more and less experienced dancers.

It was great to see our friends from Morrigan and Sirens of Shadows performing some Gothic/tribal fusion. All their hard work in choreographing and rehearsing has certainly paid off and we thoroughly enjoyed their performances. Well done girls!

Rakkassah - Sue's troupe who host the hafla - treated us to two fabulous dances, including one with a zil accompaniment.  As you all know, I love my zils but do have a bit of a thing about their proper use. I am happy to report that the ladies employed their zils sensitively and appropriately to complement both the music and their dancing! Yay!

There are just too many acts to go through here - but one does deserve a special mention! Today we were joined by Hassan, who shared some authentic saidi stick work with us. I just love the more folkloric styles of dance and this was no exception. So relaxed and at ease, obviously really enjoying himself - and really enjoying simply dancing. Thank you Hassan!

Although we didn't perform today we did get plenty of chances to get up for a boogie in between acts. It was great to be joined by a host of other dancers - including many who were not tribal but were intrigued by the improv we were doing! That can sometimes be a bit of a challenge when you're leading, as you're trying to think of moves that won't be too difficult for people not familiar with the style to follow. I have to confess that in the end we just 'went for it' - but everyone seemed to really enjoy it anyway!! Except for Tribal Jane, whose earlier trip to the bar had obviously caught up with her. She was fast asleep under the table ...

Do I really have to travel home like this?
I didn't have THAT much to drink!
And so another afternoon at Lowton came to a close. Huge thanks to Sue, Julie and all the team for a great hafla. And huge thanks to the audience - I think I only spotted one of the Seven Deadly Sins when somebody walked across the front of a dancer whilst they were performing. That's pretty good going!

We really missed you Sarah - but we did have a great time anyway! Next week it's Shekinah's hafla at Formby, and hopefully Sakura will be fighting fit again by then!

Until next time, happy dancing!

Get Well Soon!

Why, you may ask, is Cayte here blogging when she should be wrestling with false eyelashes, concreting bindis to her head and festooning herself in her new, never-seen-in-performance pantaloons and dress ready for a bit of improv at Lowton hafla this afternoon?

It is very sad.

Sarah is poorly..

Now , if you know Sarah, you will know that she has danced through many illnesses - who can forget the time time we danced at Yorkshire Bedazzle, in the full throes of flu? We left immediately after our performance (which luckily was an early one) and then had a fun filled drive back over the Pennines with raging temperatures, aches, pains and dizziness.

But on this occasion performing just can't be done.

So instead of starting the long make up ritual, here I am with my wet hair wrapped in a towel, blogging!

We are both very sad for several reasons ...

1) We have really been looking forward to performing today.
2) We love performing at Lowton hafla!
3) We were really looking forward to wearing our new costumes!
4) I have green fingernails to match my pantaloons. Unfortunately they do not match anything else.
5) I will now have to iron a whole new outfit!
6) We were really looking forward to catching up with lots of friends.
7) We love the food at Lowton hafla!

Well, to be honest 6) and 7) only really apply to Sarah - I'm going anyway, and am just coming out in sympathy with her. And no, don't be silly, I am NOT soloing!! But I am going to enjoy chilling and relaxing and enjoying all the improv and bopping during the discoey/drummy bits. I am going to take lots of photos and do a blog so that Sarah can pretend she was there. I also have to deal with the thorny issue of which outfit to wear to tie together my green performance fingernails and my high purple velvet boots?

Decisions, decisions ......

On a serious note, it's always sad when you're geared up and ready to perform and then are ill. You  feel rotten enough, and sad that you're missing out - but also really grotty because you feel you've let folk down. Well, Sarah, we all understand and would just like to say :

I shall be back later with hafla photos and stuff.

In the meantime - happy dancing! (Or not, as the case may be ....)

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Video of the Week - Bex!

Now as you all know, Sakura are group improv girls - but that doesn't mean we can't appreciate other forms of bellydance too. Only this week Cayte came across a sublime video from the recent Henna & Spice hafla in Birmingham, which we just HAVE to share with you. It's a bit of Dark Tribal Fusion from the divine Bex, a teacher and performer from the West Midlands here in the UK. If you're based over here, you will no doubt have heard of her (she was recently the very deserving winner of the Fusion Soloist category of Miss Bellydance UK). If you're from further afield and haven't seen her work, then watch out for her -she's amazing!

"A life-long member of the UK Goth Scene and  ex-DJ for one of the country's top goth nights, Bex has been able to use her passion for exquisite clothing and alternative music to add a much spookier twist on Tribal Fusion Bellydance."

"Combining traditional bellydance formats and Tribal Fusion with the dark essence of Gothic subculture, dark Tribal bellydance is an organic, ever-evolving style that is increasing in popularity across the globe. Bex delivers dramatic theatre through serpentine movement and mechanical motions."
Bex's website

Without further ado we shall hand you over to Bex. We won't say "Sit back and enjoy", but rather "Slide to the edge of your seats and prepare to be sucked into your screen by some Satanic slinkiness!' :

Wow! How fabulous is that? We love Bex's whole quality of movement and response to the music - and of course, sublime technique. Her quick tempo changes are awesome - for example at 1:01 where she suddenly swings from reeaally slow and slinky into a fast dramatic turn (we loves our tempo changes!). Although in some ways this performance isn't as overtly scary as many of her others (believe us, there were some pretty chilling stares going down during her performance at Raqs Britannia last year!) it has a really haunting, vintage-gothy feel to it - almost harking back to the old black and white horror movies (which lets face it, were always the best!).

Having seen Bex dance 'live' we also love the way she interacts with her audience. She somehow manages to maintain a proud, aloof air without losing very real contact with people watching her, - not just via those scary stares either, but by a variety of expressions challenging you to walk on the dark side with her.

She is also 110% committed to her development as a dancer. Only the other week she was there sweating alongside us at a Pauline Qu workshop (well, we were sweating - she looked as cool as a cucumber, with flutters to die for!). Her disciplined training regime put us all to shame - and boy, does it show!

If you want to find out more about Bex check out her website here. There's a host of information there, including her biography, blog and upcoming workshops and performances.

Thank you for sharing your dance with us Bex - you're amazing!

We'll be back with you all soon. In the meantime - happy (and spookily dark!) dancing!

Thanks to Bex for the images in this post

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Tribal, Sakura Style : Part Deux!

Well, here we are again - time for a bit more warbling on! I am going to try to control any innate prattling tendencies this week, so that I get everything I want to say into one post, and it's done with. I hate things that just linger on and on - so I WILL do it. I hope.

Carrying on from where we left off last time ...

Traditional Rajasthani dancers; Tribal
Bellydance draws upon Indian dance,
but does not lay claim to being
Tribal Bellydance can be a source of dramatic misconceptions for those not 'in the know'. The use of vintage textiles and jewellery together with the moniker of 'tribal' can lead people to think that it is some ancient, authentic dance form. Quite simply - it's not!!! Yes, Tribal draws on other older dance forms, be they Middle Eastern, Indian, Flamenco or African - but it reinterprets them and places them into a modern frame. Whilst all due respect and homage is given to its origins, it is essentially a dance of today, danced by today's people. I read somewhere recently that it's a 'hotch-potch'; I know what the writer was getting at, but I hate that particular term. It implies that the founders of Tribal just took any old move and threw them all into the mix. I wasn't there, but I'm pretty sure that a little more thought went into it! Each tribal format has its own aesthetic - and the moves and stylisations incorporated into it take account of that.

Paulette Rees-Denis dances to musical
accompaniment from her husband, Jeff,
They worked closely together with
other musicians, as Gypsy Caravan, to
produce an array of music suitable
 for tribal dance. 
This modern aspect of the dance does have implications for the way in which it is presented. Choice of  music, for example. Several groups have written and performed music specifically for tribal dance - Helm and Gypsy Caravan to name but two. This music is ideal for improvisation; it often does not have sudden changes in tempo, for example. But does this mean that this is ALL that we can dance to? I would say 'No!' I have seen some beautiful improvisation to Spanish and Indian flavoured music, for example - dance forms that in themselves have heavily influenced tribal. But what about more contemporary music - dare I say it, 'pop' music?  I know that some people have a real problem with this - but we don't. At least, not in moderation. Sakura have always danced to more traditional tribal or Middle Eastern music (in performances at any rate. Drilling is another matter. Just try drilling Boxes and Directional Shimmy Combos to 'Satellite' by the Hooters - woo hoo!). However, at the moment we are preparing two performances for upcoming haflas. One is a slow dance to a traditional tribal track - steady tempo, repetitive phrasing, just written for improv! It's also a very beautiful track, which makes you feel slinky as you dance. That's why we chose it! The second track is a bit different for us - it's a contemporary track, lots of tempo changes .... at first glance you might think it just wouldn't work for improv. But it does. Brilliantly. The key is that we both really KNOW the music - backwards, forwards, standing on our head know it. And we have talked about the music, about how we interpret different parts of it. We haven't danced it to death - we don't want it to become a choreography - but we have a shared understanding of it. Does this mean we will abandon more traditional tracks in future? Definitely not! This track just fits the venue where it will be performed perfectly, and as an occasional 'one-off' we think it's fine - it's actually refreshing for us. But we know where our roots lie and won't be abandoning them. Now what about troupes who ALWAYS perform to contemporary music? If I'm honest, I'm not 100% comfortable with that - but can't quite get my head around why in order to write it down coherently here! Suffice it to say that it's not a path that Sakura will be taking ...

FatChance BellyDance, 2010
 Which brings me on to the subject of improvisation. There used to be a common understanding that improvised tribal should be ALL improvised. 100%. Some folk used to take great glee in watching videos of FCBD to try to 'catch them out' in a bit of choreo. And yet, flicking back through my Tribal Bible the other day, that's not what comes across at all. What comes across is that it should be MAINLY improv. Which throws a whole new light on things. If you're dancing for yourself, whether in class or in rehearsals 100% improv is great. However, as soon as you take that out to an audience, you take on further responsibility; the responsibility to ENTERTAIN. And that means thinking about concepts such as staging, thinking about entrances/exits, thinking about formations - all of which, sometimes necessitate a measure of pre-planning. When we perform, the degree of this pre-planning varies. Sometimes we DO dance 100% improv - usually to more traditional music. Sometimes, to add a bit of punch, we might choreo a short entrance - which might be as simple as an agreed step. We might loosely agree an ending (which is still a bit up in the air as we might get carried away doing something else!) If there is a particular 'punctuation spot' in the music we might chat and agree a few possible moves that might go there. But the vast majority of the dance - probably 90% plus - is improv. And we have no qualms at all in saying we dance Improvised Tribal Style. Neither do we feel any need to hide the facts that bits of the dance may be prearranged, because basically it's done to ensure that you, as our audience, are considered. You're not outsiders, we want you to enjoy and be drawn into our dance - so we want to present it to best effect. Yes, we could dance 100% improv to everything. We could even have a bash at doing it to a track we didn't know very well. But we wouldn't be doing the music, the dance or YOU true justice. So we'll save that for when we hit the dance floor for a general boogie at the end of the hafla!

Gypsy Caravan : a modern take on
tribal costuming
 Now - costuming!!! Oooh, shiny things!!! Sadly, too often people see this as being what tribal IS. That traditional tribal outfit - pantaloons, big skirt, choli, coin bra, turban - is what people see as being THE Tribal Costume. It is a very imposing, very beautiful look. Sakura really enjoy wearing it - and do so quite often (with some adaptations - Cayte in a turban bears more than a passing resemblance to Widow Twanky!). But is it the ONLY tribal costume that's permissible? Not at all. That particular costume, in all its elegance, was presented on the FCBD Costuming DVD  - but if you look at FCBD today, you can see that although many basic elements remain unchanged others - the headwear for example - have moved on, with 'hair gardens' and headbands ousting the turban on many occasions. We are around 10 years on, after all! If you look at some other troupes today, such as Gypsy Caravan, they may perform in more pared -down outfits - trousers and ghawazee coats for example - but maintain that tribal feel with big belts, jewellery and head wraps. Other troupes, in particular those dancing more fusion styles, such as Urban Tribal, wear very minimalistic costumes - black trousers and crop top with  very little jewellery. Sakura probably are somewhere in the middle. Sometimes we dress up in the full traditional tribal outfit. Sometimes we cut it back a little - pantaloons/trousers and long coats. Lots of make up and bindis - always! Sometimes hairbands with big flowers and feathers (easier for short hair than the full hair garden!), sometimes head wraps. We choose our outfits to match the dance we are performing, and the venue. And it's all good! At the end of the day, though, it's the DANCE that matters, not the costume. I dream of a hafla where, in the first half everyone would perform in black t-shirts and trousers. No clues given about their style; it should be apparent from their moves, music and 'feel'. Then in the second half the same dancers would return to do the same dances again - in full costume. I think that would really sharpen up our perceptions and presentation, and keep us all on our toes. Costume doth not a tribal - or indeed any other - dancer make!!

Well, I'm coming to the end of this post. I was going to write a bit about creativity in our dance, but have so much to say that I'm going to save that for a post all of its own. Hopefully you know understand a bit more about where we, as Sakura, are coming from, and why we do what we do. You may not agree with it all, but that's fine. If we all thought the same it'd be a boring old world!

Until next time - happy dancing!

P.S. Check out the YIP! Podcast site and associated Facebook page for details of their 'Propapalooza' event on 9th July. We can't get there in person - but we're having a Propapalooza party (Thank You Jo!)

Thanks to Paulette Rees-Denis and YIP Podcast for images in this post

Friday, 6 May 2011

Video of the Week - Gypsy Rain!

Well, in recent weeks we've visited the UK, Italy and America - so this week we thought it was time for a trip to see our dancing sisters down under!

The first of our featured Australian troupes is Nina Martinez's  'Gypsy Rain', from Queensland :

"Tribal bellydance is an improvised dance format where we learn moves and formations to create a circle of mesmerising dancing women- swaying hips, graceful arms , rich, colourful skirts, tribal jewellery ...... a contempory, vibrant tribal dance style.
Our tribal style is based on the Gypsy Caravan format."
Gypsy Rain website.

Nina has achieved her Collective Soul 4 and Teacher Training Level 3 certifications in the Gypsy Caravan format, and was a part of their fabulous performance at last year's Tribal Fest. Her diary on the Gypsy Rain website really speaks to us - and for us - in terms of the whole Gypsy Caravan experience. In her own words :

"Somehow Paulette has managed to capture the romance of the folkloric style and marry it with ATS elegance to create a vibrant, original style."

"I think this dance we do is like a living force, that draws women from all corners of life into a vortex of colour, passion and devotion. 
 Once you start on the path it’s a heady spiral up."

"Paulette seemed to be talking Italian where we were speaking French, our language was similar yet there was this difference, hers seemed warmer, sunnier. Her frame is different, her count is different, her philosophy is different. Her philosophy of dance is very community minded, it's about everyone in the group being special- everyone with their own grace to share and be appreciated."

"It (Paulette's teaching) seems to have softened our approach, its not quite as fierce, rigid and cool in approach. She has added a big pinch of spice and happiness into our dancing."

Check out the full article here.

Nina, you have given voice to everything we love about this dance. Thank you!

And now for some dancing!

Beautiful, beautiful dancing ladies! 

Once again this video really captures that wonderfully effortless feel, with some gorgeous formations and transitions (including Yasmeela's Combo - one of our favourites - done in two lines). The costumes go together to give a vibrant rainbow effect - we especially like it when the girls first move into a line and you see all the colours together ( and as you all know we LOVE our colour!). Oh and Nina's snake arms at the beginning are so fluid and languid - snake arms to die for!

But above all else what comes across is that the dancers are really together - not just physically, but also emotionally, in terms of what dancing together means to them.

Thank you so much for sharing your dance with us ladies!

We'll be back to Australia in a few weeks time, as we plan on featuring another Queensland troupe, Tribal Blossoms - so look out for it!

Until next time, happy dancing!

Thanks to Nina Martinez and Gypsy Rain for the images in this post